Michael Johnson Associate Editor
October 1, 2003
Photos By: Steve Turner

South Florida Mustang shops continue to turn out fast Mustangs by the boatload. But most of these cars aren't built for a specific class. They're just wicked fast, and if they happen to fit in a class, all the better. Since most are geared primarily for the street, a lot of guys run them in Wild Street-type classes, such as those in the World Ford Challenge.

One such Mustang that had a hard time fitting in a class is the coupe shown here, owned by Ronnie Wilson. "I grew up around Mustangs," Ronnie says. "My dad got me hooked when he used to run older Mustangs like a '69 Mach 1." Consequently, Ronnie's first Mustang was a '69 Mach 1 428 Cobra Jet he received for his 15th birthday. The Mach 1 was running 10.90s while Ronnie was still in high school. Evidently, Ronnie and the Mach 1 had a lot of fun together-maybe too much fun since he lost his license for 10 years due to tickets and other street infractions, to be politically correct. Ronnie blames his motor-vehicle misfortunes on his dad for turning him loose with the Mach 1.

Ronnie owned the car for seven years. He got into the 5.0 scene by trading the Mach 1 for an '86 GT, which would be the first of many 5.0s to cross his path. The '86 ran 14.30s stock, but with nitrous those times dropped significantly to the 11.30s at around 119 mph. He crashed the '86 and then had an '88 coupe that he later sold. Then he had an '89 LX hatch that ran 10.20 at 134 mph. The car was a daily driver that Ronnie drove to North Carolina, Kentucky, and all over the Southeast. That car was stolen, and by the time Ronnie found it, it was stripped to a bare shell. Next up was a '92 coupe with a 347 that went 10.20 at 136 mph with A/C, power steering-the whole nine yards. You got all that? Ronnie's had a lot of Fox Mustangs! He sold the '92 to buy the car you see here.

Ronnie bought the '88 coupe from its original owner, former South Florida Mustang personality Mike Ardito. Known for owning fast Mustangs, including a red single-turbo coupe, Mike had the car running low 10s when Ronnie bought it. The car boasted a 347 with a hydraulic-roller cam, Edelbrock heads, and a dual-stage nitrous fogger kit.

Ronnie couldn't get the car to run to its full potential, so in 2000 he built the current 359 and added an NOS single fogger kit and a C4, which catapulted it down to the 9.30s. After adding a Performance Automatic Powerglide and a Wilson Manifolds/Nitrous Pro-Flow kit, the coupe went 8.90s at 150 mph. Tuning and other little things have brought times down to a best 8.70 at 158 mph with slicks and an 8.90 at 157 mph on BFGoodrich Drag Radials.

With the surge of radial-type drag racing, Ronnie finally found a good match for the car. As a matter of fact, when we were finally able to shoot the car, he was competing at his first NMRA Drag Radial race at the '03 Bradenton opener. Though the other green car -owned by Chris Little-was the odds-on favorite, Ronnie could've made it an all-green Mustang coupe final, but Peter Champani got out first and bounced him from competition even though Ronnie ran a slightly quicker time. "I was sleeping," Ronnie says. Really?

Ronnie's options with the coupe are seemingly endless these days. He's going to run the Radial Tire class at the Orlando Street Nationals, but he'll also run the Fun Ford Renegade class now that it's open to carbureted cars. He'll also throw in a few NMRA Drag Radial races and the Ford Power Festival at Moroso Motorsports Park in the Street DOT class. We think the chances of seeing a green coupe in the finals at an event near you just improved.